Saturday, May 12, 2007

Designer Genes

Just caught a story about a man taking his mother back to her parents' native homeland on a 'geneaology tour' as a gift for Mother's Day. It was really quite moving as they discovered the remains of the crumbled house her mother actually grew up in as well as grave markers of their ancestors.

It got me to thinking.....we are all from somewhere, and probably somewhere else.

My family history:

Father: Italian ancestry, first-born here with parents coming from the Naples area of Italy. The first time I was in port in Naples on a ship, I couldn't help but look out and think how this was the last thing my ancestors saw in Italy as they boarded a ship and left for America. Ironically, I had also been in New York City a couple of weeks before that looking out at the harbor and the Statue of Liberty thinking, this was the first thing my ancestors saw as they approached the new country. With my visit to the port of Naples, I had come full circle. I don't think anyone in my family had done that before. It was a small personal triumph for me.

Mother: Mostly English, Irish, with some French in the mix. We are told some of her ancestors were watchmakers in London before coming to the colonies. Her family has actually been in the U.S. since before the Revolutionary War and indeed participated in it. There are family stories of someone untying the horses of British soldiers and letting them go, while the 'redcoats' were busy in a local pub. Even small contributions to the war effort must have been helpful then. :) Eventually, they migrated to Texas as one of the 'Original 300', while it was still part of Mexico. They received one of the original land grants and were members of Stephen F. Austin's colony. They lived through the Texas revolution, independence from Mexico ("Remember the Alamo!"), Texas as a country and finally annexation into the U.S.. We also had soldiers in the U.S. Civil War -- on both sides -- which must have been pure hell for years at family reunion time. :) A pretty rich family history overall.

I've never attempted to go back to either "old country" on a gene quest to seek out signs of ancestors, like grave markers or family homes. But that might be a fun adventure to go on someday, and I just might do it.

Everybody's from somewhere some point in their history. Where are you from?


SandDancer said...

My family background is so dull. My father's side are English as far back as anyone knows and pretty much from where I was born. My mother's grandmother was Irish although nobody seems to know where from exactly. I actually do feel some sadness about this now as there isn't anyone left that I can ask for more details now.

I'm always a bit jealous of people with 'exotic' heritage.

M said...

Ooh....I find the history of the UK fascinating, and it would be neat to trace back your family's "dull" history there to find out what they lived through and where they fit in. You never know what you'll find! Maybe something 'exotic'. :)